Showing posts from May, 2019

Get Roundup off of store shelves (aka Glyphosate)

The pesticide known as Roundup has been widely used for four decades. It’s a cash cow for Monsanto. But recent scientific studies have determined it’s a carcinogen and court cases are paying out huge damages to victims . Thousands more lawsuits have been filed. And yet many retailers still stock the product for home use. Today, I signed a petition asking Home Depot and Lowes to take the product off their shelves, following the lead of Costco.

South Bay Children's Health Center

Today, I donated to the South Bay Children’s Health Center , an organization that provides dental and mental health services to low income children and families in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County. For many children and families, financial constraints mean forgoing toothbrushes & tooth paste, let alone visits to the dentist. And access to quality mental health care is critical and potentially lifesaving.

Conscious Capitalism Boston board meeting

Today, I attended another Conscious Capitalism Boston board meeting, where we focused mostly on our engagement with our corporate members. We’re taking the summer to do some planning, so this kicked off some important reflections on where we are and where we’re going.

350 Mass Cambridge note meeting

350 Mass organizes grassroots action on climate change statewide. And I’m a member of the Cambridge node (“node” what they call a municipal level chapter) though I haven’t been to a meeting in a long time. Today, I attended a Cambridge node meeting. It was particularly important because the Cambridge node is renaming itself the “Cambridge-Somerville” node and joining the Climate Coalition of Somerville

Sustainability tour debrief

It’s Memorial Day and I usually try to visit the moving tribute on Boston Common, where 37,000 flags are planted in the ground to represent fallen soldiers from Massachusetts. I wasn’t able to visit this year but I was still able to get a civic act in. Today, I took part in a two-hour debrief of the sustainability tour we held last month. It was a useful to talk through some feedback we heard and think through whether we should make it annual event. More to come on that.

Transportation and Climate Initiative comments

Planning sessions for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) are underway. I attended one public conference on it last month and another took place about a week ago. It’s important to get the design of this multi-state low-carbon transportation program right. A big emphasis right now is on ensuring equity: how can the program support the transportation needs of low-income and vulnerable populations, which is vital. Today, I submitted comments to the program managers, led by the Georgetown Climate Center, stressing not only equity — but also asking them to ensure that the cap-and-invest program leads to a price of carbon that approximates the social cost of carbon. Otherwise, the program would be all for naught.

Herring monitor shift

Today, I went back to the Mystic Lakes dam for another herring monitor shift. It was a beautiful day to be on the lake. I counted zero fish, surprisingly; there were accounts of over 1,000 fish in a several 10-minutes shifts just yesterday. The migration season seems late this year, according to the Mystic River Watershed Association .

The Center for Adolescent & Young Adult Oncology

A good friend recently lost his teenage daughter to cancer in sudden and heartbreaking fashion. The reality is that teens with cancer don’t get much support; they’re too old for a pediatric clinic, but too young for an adult clinic (alongside patients a generation or two older). They can feel isolated from their peers, who aren’t equipped to provide emotional support. Today, I made a donation to the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Hospital, which aims to address many of these issues by establishing The Center for Adolescent & Young Adult Oncology (CAYAO).

Make DC the 51st state

At a conference last month, I had a nice chat with Mike Brown, who is the Senator for the District of Columbia. Actually, he’s the “Shadow Senator,” because he has no budget and can’t vote on Senate matters. Indeed, residents of DC — our nation’s capital — have been paying federal taxes without representation in Congress for over 100 years. I promised Senator Brown I would advocate for change. The US House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this year endorsing statehood for DC. Today, I signed a petition supporting that bill for DC’s statehood.

Basil Tree Catering

Today, I led a discussion for Conscious Capitalism Boston with the founder and marketing director of Basil Tree Catering. Basil Tree has been “catering with a conscience” for 32 years, so they know a little bit about how responsible business practices have evolved through business cycles. Great discussion with the Conscious Capitalism chapter.


Today, I donated to a Kickstarter campaign that is bringing news reporting to the Rust Belt, with “No caricatures. No clichés. It’s called “Postindustrial” and it’s assembled an editorial and publishing team from Pittsburgh to report on what’s really happening. As they put it: National media outlets and politicians portrayed us as a group of unemployed coal miners and laid off steelworkers. We were pigeonholed as “forgotten Americans” who were stuck in the past. We were viewed as poorly educated and uninformed. That is not the Postindustrial America we know. And we want to correct the record for 2020 and beyond.

Social media and democracy

Social media is reshaping democracy in ways that we don’t fully understand. It’s a complex relationship that governs why people can be so uncivil online, echo chamber effects, fake news propagation and foreign electoral influence. But consider that we clearly see how corrosive some practices are. Social media companies can no longer hide behind the Communications Decency Act and claim they are neutral platforms on which other conduct discourse. They have a responsibility to monitor that discourse. Today, I signed a petition asking Facebook and Twitter to suspend our president for his attacks on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, sharing a video questioning her loyalty to the United States and putting her life at risk.

Herring monitor shift

Today, I had another early morning shift at the Mystic Lakes dam, monitoring herring coming up the fish ladder. I counted 294 herring in my 10 minute shift so the herring are definitely running. I also saw a majestic bald eagle circling the Tufts boathouse.

ACLU of Alabama

Today, I made a donation to the ACLU of Alabama. Why Alabama? Because this has been a dark week for women in the United States, due to the Alabama legislature’s medieval attitudes toward abortion. The ACLU (among other organizations) plans to appeal the new law before it can ever be enforced.

Boston Partners in Education

There’s a rally this evening to advocate for more state funding for public education. But I couldn’t make it. Today, I made a donation to Boston Partners in Education, an organization that provides Boston public school students with volunteer support.

Researching the history of your house

Did you know that May is national preservation month? It’s true, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation . Today, I attended a workshop called, “ Researching the History of Your House and Your Family ,” held by the City of Somerville. I’m now intrigued by what I might find out about my 100+ year old house and its role in the community.

Why competition in the politics industry is failing America

Today, I read the fascinating report written two years ago by Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter called, “ Why competition in the politics industry is failing America .” The starting point for understanding the problem is to recognize that our political system isn’t broken. Washington is delivering exactly what it is currently designed to deliver. The real problem is that our political system is no longer designed to serve the public interest, and has been slowly reconfigured to benefit the private interests of gain-seeking organizations: our major political parties and their industry allies. They applied Porter’s five forces model of competition to the U.S. political system and determined: In healthy competition, industry actors would be competing to deliver the desired outcomes for customers—fellow citizens—and be held accountable for results. Political rivals who fail to serve the public would be replaced by new competitors who do. Instead, today’s political competition is unhealt

Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting

Today, I attended the monthly meeting for the Climate Coalition of Somerville. We had a new member sit in and we essentially had about 90 minutes of updates on what’s happened over the past month.

Project ID

Over 21 million Americans don’t have a personal ID (think drivers license), which limits their ability to obtain jobs, housing, health care and live full lives in their communities. Today, I made a donation to Project ID (a project of Spread the Vote), which is working to provide IDs for disenfranchised Americans.

Herring monitor shift

Today, I fulfilled my weekly shift as a herring monitor on the Mystic Lakes dam. No fish today, unfortunately, which surprised me given the 99 fish I counted last week. But at least it was a beautiful day.

Ban facial recognition software in Somerville

Today, I signed a petition to ban the use of facial recognition software by the City of Somerville for law enforcement or other purposes. The reality is that facial recognition software, and its application for law enforcement purposes, is nowhere near mature for its benefits to outweigh its privacy costs. At the same time, the City Council has introduced an ordinance with the same language as the petition.

Reduce - A Somerville Climate Panel

Today, I spoke on a panel called, “ Reduce – a Somerville Climate Panel ” at the Aeronaut Brewery. We had a good audience, maybe 30 or so people, for a good discussion on climate action for the city’s residents and businesses.

Somerville Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change

Today, I attended the monthly meeting for Somerville’s Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change. There’s an active effort to get the commissioners to be ambassadors of the city’s climate action plan through different public forums. And there as a good discussion of next steps to actualize the climate action plan through budgets and ordinances.

Board of Building Regulations and Standards hearing

Today, I provided testimony to the Massachusetts Board of Building Standards and Regulations (BBRS). It’s within their power to develop a net-zero energy stretch code that would enable cities and towns to mandate zero emissions buildings. Some of the board members were receptive to the idea, but others were less so. It’s likely that only legislation will move them.

We the People amendment

Along with the majority of Americans, I believe that money is corrupting our political process. It’s a grave influence on electoral politics and it gives undue influence over legislation to corporate interests that tend to prefer the status quo. Today, I joined 11 other advocates in the offices of our Congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley, to advocate for the We the People amendment to the Constitution. This amendment would make it clear that only natural persons (as opposed to corporate entities) possess constitutional rights and that expenditures of money in political campaigns are not protected “free speech.”

Climate Reality chapter leaders call

Today, I joined the monthly call for Climate Reality Project chapter leaders. There have been some interesting wins in other states around the country, notably legislation in Colorado.

Herring monitor action

Today, I did my weekly shift as a volunteer herring monitor , for the fourth straight Saturday in a light rain. This time, however, the herring are starting to come through the fish ladder set up at Mystic Lakes Dam. After five minutes without a single fish coming through, a pulse of herring made their way through. Oh, and I got an up close look at a bald eagle, too.

World Wildlife Fund

Today, I made a donation to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (aka WWF). WWF has a long history of being conservation activism and advocacy. More recently, its programs to work with companies on their sustainability programs have come under pressure from activists who accuse WWF of conspiring with the enemy. But I’m still of the belief that corporate actors need to be part of the environment solutions so I applaud the WWF’s efforts to build constructive partnerships.

Waste Myth-Busters: Everything you didn't know about waste and recycling

There’s a recycling crisis in the United States right now, catalyzed by China’s shift in accepting fewer imports of recycled goods. But it’s also the consequence of depressed markets for recycled goods and poor recycling behavior on our part. Today, I attended a workshop held by the City of Somerville on “Waste Myth-Busters: Everything you didn’t know about waste and recycling.” There were lots of interesting tidbits; for example, the City of Somerville’s bill for recycling has whipsawed from $5/ton to $90/ton in the past year.


The City of Somerville schedules Resistat meetings in each ward, in which they present updates on projects and data on goings-on within the city and the neighborhood. Today, I attended the quarterly gathering and got good rundown everything from long-term sewer and water improvements to traffic disruptions due to construction for the Green Line extension. But the highlight was the Police Chief, who spent a few minutes talking about the bank robbery — armed suspect still at large — a few hours earlier and just one block away from the meeting.